Thank you from the Chair of Judges

There’s a combination of sadness and excitement as this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals draws to a close. Sadness that all of the fervour around Reading and reviewing the books is drawing to a close, but excitement that the winners are now announced and that, finally, everyone knows and is able to discuss and debate these. Do you agree with what the judges selected this year? Can you recognise why these books were chosen as the winners?

Reading so many of the thousands upon thousands of reviews submitted has been massively inspiring and uplifting and the feelings and views you have taken the time to place into words is impressive. So many responses, so many reactions to the characters and stories crafted and structured through words and pictures. In many cases reading your views and verdicts has led my opinions to change and alter.

This is one of the remarkable things about reading, we all approach it with different ideas, imaginations and invest into it parts of ourselves. People sometimes think reading can only be a quiet, solitary and even outdated activity. The truth is it can challenge and comfort as well as changing who we are and how we think. Sometimes this is in small ways, sometimes in significant ways and sometimes in ways that are quite unexpected.

After you have shared your opinions on the books, it only feels right to let you know why the judges selected their choices of winners. Perhaps you will agree, perhaps you will feel fiercely that another book should have won, this is one of the great things about reading we all bring to it our unique understanding and experience.

The 2018 CILIP Carnegie medal was awarded to Geraldine McCaughrean for ‘Where the World Ends’. ‘Where the World Ends’ felt to the judges to be perfectly pitched, it conjured a time and a place that readers inhabit; living, breathing and almost tasting the smack of salty sea spray upon lips as they feverishly turn the pages, eager to learn more about the predicament that sees Quilliam and the boys left fighting to survive on Warriors Stac. It is a book that has a huge amount to say about belief, about the gradual shift between childhood and adulthood and which brings to bear an indomitable sense of the human spirit for survival. In equal measures tense, thought provoking and told with style and panache it offers a rich reading experience that unreels and unravels more upon every reading.

The 2018 CILIP Kate Greenaway novel went to Sydney Smith for ‘Town is by the Sea’. ‘Town is by the Sea’ sees a powerful and poignant union between words and pictures. It’s an astonishing book that balances the intimacy of a boy’s childhood world of play, imagination and the safety of family and home in a small seaside town, with a larger and more perilous story of an adult world of work and the dangers of coal mining. The story brilliantly pairs and pits these two aspects together creating an unforgettable experience that makes profound comments about the nature of childhood, change and the journeys we chart into our future as we grow…

Encountering change can be challenging, but the stories that we carry with us in both our hearts and our minds can help us weather the changes we might face. We hope that you have enjoyed the experience of shadowing and have encountered and read some stories that will stay with you throughout your life…

As well as leaving a lasting mark on the minds of the judges, many of the 237 books that were nominated have been gifted by the judges to schools, public libraries, nurseries, prisons and children’s homes across the whole of the UK where they will continue to change minds. It brings to mind a passage from the author Fay Weldon’s book, ‘Letters to Alice’…

books are wonderful things; to sit alone in a room and laugh and cry, because you are reading, and still be safe when you close the book; and having finished it, discover you are changed, yet unchanged! To be able to visit the City of Invention at will, depart at will – that is all, really, education is about, should be about.

Thank you for joining us and shadowing this year’s awards and for helping to make the process so enjoyable and enlivening and thank you for sharing with us your ideas and thoughts. Happy Reading!

Jake Hope
Chair of CKG Judges

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